I took NK to a Solna Vikings basketball game this afternoon. We saw the women play, not because I took my daughter but because the women play in the afternoon, the men play in the evenings. She has taken to throwing our basketball off the couch, barely missing her little brother’s head, so I thought it would be good for her to see how the “tall girls,” as I put it, really play.
We walked through the afternoon dark to Solnahallen. There were only about a hundred or so people in attendance, and they did not make much noise. The press table was empty. There was the requisite loud music.
I am fascinated by minor sports here in Sweden, across Europe actually. I just read a pretty good book by an American guy who played in Greece, Spain and Russia, among other places. Sweden is levels below that, but, still most teams have a couple Americans on the roster, a few fans, some minor TV deal for the championship series and uniforms covered with sponsorships by the local auto body shop.
The Solna woman have been the dominant team in the league this decade and you could tell by the uniform, covered with sponsors. Their opponents, Umeå, had far less, though they did have an add for a travel agency right under the armpit. How do you negotiate that placement?
Umeå also had what sounded like an Irish coach, and I was proud when NK said she could tell he spoke English. He was loud and positive and all over the place. The Solna coach was a tall, stern woman all in black who stalked the sidelines making dramatic hand motions, and, frankly, intimidated even me in the stands. Solna was the better team too – more disciplined, better shooters, in better shape. But I ended up rooting for Umeå, seemingly congenitally attracted to the underdog.
The quality of the basketball was hard to pinpoint. The women all had pro-level size, meaning they were really tall and really strong. But I have to put the level of play somewhere around my graduate school intramural team. This is not the insult that it sounds like. We had three very serious, fringe European pro-players on that team, won the grad school league, and only just lost the overall Columbia championship to the undergrad winners, who were all guys who had quit the varsity, plus a really good woman. I was that extra fifth guy with glasses and two knee braces wearing hiking boots (really, my basketball shoes had fallen apart) trying to play good defense and run around on offense and not get passed the ball and not get embarrassed.
But back to Solna, where the best thing I got out of the game (we only saw half because NK just announced we were going home) was a new cheer. Forget thundersticks and the wave. My daughter pulled a beater from a mixer out of her bag. She pointed it at the court and yelled, “BEEEEEEEEEE!!!”
Totally worked for me. You should get it going at the next game you go to. Imagine 50,000 people at Yankee Stadium tonight pulling beaters out of their pockets and yelling, BEEEEEEEEE. The other team would have no chance.